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What Happened to My Well-Mannered Puppy?

Tips and tricks to tame your pooch

Posted May 02, 2012 in Dog Behavior

OK, we’ve all heard of the “terrible twos” that often overtake previously happy and contented little babies. Well, the same thing happens with our canine friends, just a little sooner than with their human counterparts. 

Depending on the pup, sometimes around 6 or 7 months old a previously well-mannered puppy can turn into a terror. House-training accidents, chewing, barking, the bossing around of other pets, and generally unruly behaviors might start to surface. You might find your dog doing things he hasn’t done since you first brought him home or even things he’s never done before.

Sadly, it’s during this particular time that many dog owners give up and give a dog away or surrender the dog to a shelter. Dogs of this age are among the most commonly surrendered to shelters.

However, with some work, you can get through the terrible twos and end up with an even better behaved dog. Below are some tips to help you out.

Puppy tearing up paper in the bathroom

Start early and maintain consistency.

You should start working on behavior and obedience training with your puppy from the moment he enters your home. It is never too early. House training comes first, followed by basic obedience – commands like “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” Even puppies who are a couple of months old can learn these behaviors quickly and easily. And starting early will help establish your position as “the leader of the pack,” which will help when your dog tries to test your limits.

Find your puppy’s weak spot.

It’s probably going to be food, but some puppies respond more to praise or physical interaction with their owner (a pat on the head or a big hug). You need to understand what is going to be most valuable to your puppy when you want him to stop doing something undesirable and get him to pay attention to you. Digging a hole in the yard might be fun, but a piece of a hot dog or pepperoni might be 10 times better. 

Develop a simple and consistent set of words and commands that you use with your dog.

Use the right equipment.

Keep it simple and always use the same words. “Sit,” “stay,” “no,” and “come” are obvious choices; but also remember “leave it” (for when you want the dog to ignore something or leave it alone), “no bark” (for when you want him to be quiet), and “drop it”

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